My thoughts (Jeff Miner):
Verse 14 jumps off the page at me:
Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.
How stark! How sad! Saul was Israel’s first King and had been a fairly good one. But the longer he ruled, the less effective he was. He was given to violent mood swings. Perhaps he was manic depressive. But I’d rather not get so psychological.
Nor do I want to get too theological. We could debate whether God ever actually sends an evil spirit upon someone — as verse 14 suggests. Suffice it to say that, at this point in the Old Testament, concepts about “where evil comes from” were still primitive. But let’s not get stuck there either.
Because, for me today, as I read verse 14, I am transfixed by a single thought:
The spirit that animates me today will make all the difference!
I remember a time when I spent lots of time cleaning up someone else’s mess. Someone had volunteered to do something for the Church, got it started, but then didn’t follow through. It all fell apart, and now I was investing hours “fixing it” — and feeling very peeved. As I walked out of my office to the copy machine, I brushed past other staff — without speaking a word. I remember thinking, “Oh, I should say something; otherwise they might think I’m upset with them.” But then I thought, “Nah, I’m not in the mood to be nice.” So I walked on.
Of course, others didn’t offer to play the harp to sooth my soul, either — so maybe it’s their fault! 🙂
Now, it occurs to me, if the author of I Samuel 16:14 had observed me in action, he may have written:
Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Jeff, and an evil spirit tormented him.
As you and I move through today, we will have a stark choice. As each new phase of the day unfolds (no matter how stressful), we can consciously decide to open ourselves to the wonderful, soothing Spirit of God — or we can allow ourselves to be tormented by a nasty attitude. Why would I ever choose to allow myself to be tormented? I’d have to be crazy — like Saul.
Thought for the day: As I move through each phase of today, no matter what happens, I will consciously open myself to the music of God’s Spirit playing in my soul. I will refuse to be tormented.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.